For many people, this season of Christmastide can be lonely. Older folks in nursing homes, the unemployed and even those people who have great families can struggle with the inevitable feeling of being alone. Sometimes, the separation is intentional as when there is a rift in the family or people take a vacation rather than spending time together as a family.
But more times than not, folks suffer loneliness when they just don’t feel like getting together with others. Certainly, especially during this time of Advent, depression can lead to the feeling of not wanting to engage with anyone else. It may be that a person doesn’t feel that they can add anything to a conversation or relationship – and at other times, a person may not want to invest the time and energy necessary to develop, or maintain, relationships with others. But we were meant to live in community with one another and research bears out that we are healthier when we engage one another “face to face.”
In this world of instant gratification, millions of us depend on social media to get our “fix” of “getting together” with others. Unfortunately, this superficial vehicle of social interaction is a thinly disguised substitute for the real deal – face to face engagement with one another. Yes, that’s right – face to face engagement in authentic relationships with one another.
The ancient Hebrew culture referred to it as “face to face” – that’s when the real connection happens. We are told, in Exodus 33:11, that Moses spoke with God “face to face.” That’s the way that true friends engage one another, isn’t it? I even remember when I learned that in seminary. It really changed the way that I thought about God’s involvement in my life. And the New Testament, in the book of John (1:14), tells us that Jesus came to “dwell” among us – but that word, in the Greek, really means to “pitch a tent among us.” In other words, Jesus came to pitch His tent and physically live life among us. So, next time you look out your front window, imagine Jesus coming out of His tent to wave at you from the front lawn. That’s what it means to live in relationship and community with someone.
That brings us to the title of tonight’s post – Coram Deo. This phrase, from the Latin, means to be “in the presence of God.” And there is deeper meaning in this phrase as well. When you think about being in the presence of someone, you think of being “face to face” with them, or even “nose to nose.” Of course, when we describe our relationship with God, we are assigning our human attributes and features to God. However, we don’t know if He has fingers, or hands, or even a face or a nose. So, we use anthropomorphisms to describe our relationship with God the Father – in simpler terms, we assign human attributes so something non-human. But one can certainly argue that Jesus was both God and man. So, in the case of Jesus, people did come “face to face” and “nose to nose” with Him – clearly in the presence of God.
This is particularly important at this time of year as we await the celebration of the human birth of Jesus a little more than a week from now. It is the time when God chose to be known and physically present on the earth at a time of great strife.
Our verse for tonight, in the spirit of the impending arrival of Jesus, if from the Gospel of John. The apostle tells us, in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” My encouragement this evening is that Jesus came desiring a relationship with each of us. Within the Trinity, we envision the Father above us, in heaven – Jesus, the Son, dwelling among us, in the flesh and the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us. Notice that as God continued to reveal Himself to us, the relationship with Him became more intimate with each member of the Trinity. My prayer is that you will always have the assurance that you will never be alone once you have accepted the gift of eternal life from God – you will forever be “Coram Deo” – in the presence of God. What a great gift to remember this Christmas season. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…